The 411 MMA Top 10 01.21.12: Top Ten Featherweight and Bantamweight Fights of 2012
Posted by Alex Rella on 01.21.2013
From Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes and Ronda Rousey vs. Meisha Tate to the Korean Zombie vs. Dustin Poirier and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top ten featherweight and bantamweight fights of 2012!
Top Ten Featherweight and Bantamweight Fights of 2012
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This is the final week looking back at 2012. To close it out it will be the featherweight and bantamweight classes. The 145 lb fights didn't have as many good ones last year, but the bantamweights did have some great battles. I hope you all liked reading the year in review columns as they were a lot of work. The fights are ranked based mostly on fight quality and then the significance of the fight and some of my personal opinion
10 Diego Nunes vs Bart Palaszewski: UFC on FX
Bart Palaszewski is one of my favorite fighters to watch today, I just wish he was a little better. Bartimus took on Diego Nunes on the prelims of Browne vs Bigfoot. Nunes is another solid but not great featherweight in the UFC. Bartimus got cut open early as Nunes took the first two rounds. Palaszewki came back in the third though and rocked Nunes really hard, but Nunes walked away with the unanimous decision victory. This one won Fight of the Night as well.
9 Max Holloway vs Justin Lawrence: UFC 150
Max Holloway is the youngest fighter in the UFC and looked pretty good in his first year in the company. He lost in his debut against Dustin Poirier, but he won his next three fights. Lawrence just finished competing in TUF season 15. This probably shouldn't have been on the main card but it was during that stretch in the summer when all the cards got killed by injuries. Both of the young fighters came to fight though and put on a good show. Both rounds were fast paced and really close, but Holloway finished it with body shots up against the cage with only eleven seconds left in the round. Holloway is now looking like a solid prospect in the featherweight division
8 Dennis Siver vs Diego Nunes: UFC on Fuel TV
This was Dennis Siver's featherweight debut against Diego Nunes in Sweden. Siver made a good decision to drop down as he looked very impressive here. This was mostly like a kickboxing match with Siver just dominating the entire fight. He won by unanimous decision, but Nunes got plenty of shots in. I'm a little disappointed that Siver had to pull out of his fight with Cub Swanson next month.
7 Cub Swanson vs Ross Pearson: UFC on FX
These two guys started off the show in impressive fashion. This was Pearson's second fight at featherweight and I thought he had potential to make a run at the title at this point. The two rounds were action packed as both guys showed off some great striking. With less than a minute left in the second round, Swanson knocked out Pearson with a really nice striking combination. Pearson would move back up to lightweight and Swanson went 3-0 in 2012.
6 Mark Hominick vs Pablo Garza: UFC 154
This was the last fight of Mark Hominick's career and it wasn't a bad way to go out. Nobody wants to end their career on a four fight losing streak, but it was a fun fight in his home country. The two featherweights started the main card off with an exciting first round; Hominick even got cut a little. Garza controlled the second one, but Hominick fought back to make it interesting in the third. Garza won by unanimous decision. I think the fight was good enough that Hominick probably wouldn't have been cut had he decided to keep fighting.
5 Dustin Poirier vs Max Holloway
This was Max Holloway's UFC debut as he stepped in on short notice to replace an injured Ricardo Lamas against Dustin Poirier. Holloway was undefeated at this point, but this was a huge jump in the level competition. Holloway was looking good showing off some diverse striking until Poirier took him to the ground. Poirier threw down some punches and then he locked in a mounted triangle armbar. Submission of the Night and one of the best of the year.
4 Mark Hominick vs Eddie Yagin: UFC 145
2012 was a rough year for Mark Hominick. The former number one contender went 0-2 and eventually retired. But both fights were pretty good and this one against Yagin won Fight of the Night. Yagin started strong and even dropped Hominick in the first round, but Hominick started to come back at the end of the second. Hominick got his jab going and busted open Yagin's nose. The third round was really exciting as Hominick came close to finishing it, but Yagin was able to survive even though he was exhausted. Yagin would pick up his first win in the UFC by split decision.
3 Pat Curran vs Joe Warren: Bellator 60
I think Pat Curran is the top fighter in Bellator today. Curran is the first fighter to win two tournaments in different weight classes and his lone loss in the company was to Eddie Alvarez. Curran took on champion Joe Warren for the featherweight title at Bellator 60. A lot of people cut Warren a little short sometimes, but he was a solid champion. Warren took the first rounds, but Curran exploded in the third winning by KO. This was a bit of a late stoppage and also a star making performance for Curran.
2 Jose Aldo vs Chad Mendes: UFC 142
This would be the only appearance by the UFC featherweight champion in 2012. Jose Aldo was going for his fifth title defense against the undefeated Chad Mendes. Mendes is a top wrestler so it seemed like his style may pose a problem for the champion. But he had nothing for the champ once his take downs didn't work. Aldo did blatantly grab the cage to defend one of the takedowns but, it probably wouldn't have made that much of a difference. The champ would win with a knee to Mendes' face with only a second left in the first round.
1 Dustin Poirier vs Jung Chan-Sung
The main event on Fuel TV's third event was named fight of the year by many publications and MMA award shows. I personally don't think it was that good but it was definitely one of the most exciting fights of the year. Even the Korean Zombie's entrance was awesome. At the time, both fighters were riding hot streaks and this was supposed to determine the next number one contender. The Korean Zombie came out real strong once the fight started and seemed to never let up. Thought Poirier was able to battle back and get in some stiff shots that stunned Jung. The Korean Zombie would win by d'arce choke in the fourth but unfortunately he wouldn't fight for the rest of the year because of injuries.
10 Mike Easton vs Jared Papazian: UFC on FX
This was just a rough fight in the stand up nearly the entire time. At this point Easton was still on his huge winning streak that started in 2008 and this was Papazian's UFC debut. The two traded blows for three full rounds, as Easton would win by majority decision. Unfortunately Easton was just knocked out of title contention by Raphael Assunção last month. Papazian went 0-3 in the UFC and was just released last week.
9 Shayna Baszler vs. Sara McMann: Invicta FC 2
This is the first of a couple women's fights on this week's list. McMann is a former Olympic wrestler that won silver at Athens in 2004 and made her MMA debut in 2011. Shayna Baszler has previously competed in Strikeforce and EliteXC. Baszler is also the first person to ever win an MMA fight by a cobra twist. This was the main event on Invicta FC's second event and both fighters debut appearance in the new promotion. McMann won the very close fight by unanimous decision which was named Fight of the Night.
8 Eddie Wineland vs Scott Jorgensen: UFC on FX
Eddie Wineland missed the first part of 2012 due to some injuries, but he finished the year nicely. But this was a must win for Wineland as he had lost his first two fights in the UFC. The former WEC champion fought a very smart fight. Wineland used his size and reach advantage well against the smaller Jorgenson. He also eliminated Jorgensen's wrestling. Jorgensen came out really aggressive in the second and busted Wineland open. But Wineland stayed in there and became the first person to knock out Jorgensen.
7 Kaitlin Young vs Leslie Smith: Invicta FC 1
Invicta FC's first show had some pretty good fights, but this one won Fight of the Night. Leslie Smith is still fairly new to MMA, but Kaitlin Young has experience fighting some top fighters like Tate, Carrano, and Kedzie. These two teed off on each other for fifteen minutes. This was one of those rare times when a fight was truly a draw. The two would have a rematch a few months later at Invicta FC 4. This time Smith would win by TKO.
6 Scott Jorgensen vs John Albert: UFC on Fox
Scott Jorgensen has been called a gatekeeper lately and it kinda fits for the most part. The former WEC number one contender lost his first two fights in 2012 and found himself fighting on the Facebook portion of the prelims. This only went one round, but it won Fight of the Night on a very good show. Albert came close to winning with a tight triangle choke but Jorgensen escaped and fought back with everything he had. He took Albert's back and locked in a rear naked choke. Albert tapped out with a second left in the round. Jorgensen won the Submission and Fight of the Night.
5 Brad Pickett vs Damacio Page: UFC on Fuel
Brad Pickett is one of the most exciting fighters in MMA today. One Punch rarely has a boring fight and Damacio Page is a similar fighter that always comes to fight and entertain the fans. Pickett used his superior striking to drop Page in the second and finished it with a rear naked choke. The two won Fight of the Night on a very good card.
4 Bryan Caraway vs Mitch Gagon
Bryan Caraway is often overshadowed and made fun of because he is dating a more talented fighter in Miesha Tate. He also sounded like a whiny bitch when he was talking about fighting Ronda Rousey, but he is still a pretty good fighter. This was his debut fight at bantamweight against UFC newcomer Mitch Gagon. The two had a fast paced brawl and were all tied up going into the third round. Kid Lightning used his superior ground game to win by rear naked choke. The bantamweight division is fairly shallow, so it may only take Caraway a few wins to reach the top.
3 Sarah Kaufman vs Alexis Davis: Strikeforce
Rousey vs Tate was the main event on this show, but Kaufman and Davis had a real battle on the prelims that night. The two fighters first met back in 2007 and Kaufman won that by TKO. This was just a complete slugfest. Kaufman is probably the best striker in the women's bantamweight division, but Davis upped her game for this one. The first round was spent with both fighters just repetitively punching each other in the face and the second had some nice clinch work. Kaufman won the first two rounds, but Davis won the final round as she was able to bring it to the ground. Both were bloody messes as Kaufman walked away with the victory and a future title shot against Rousey. I hope both fighters come over to the UFC eventually.
2 Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate: Strikeforce
This was the armbar that changed women's MMA forever. This was one of the best feuds of the year and it looks like it has the potential to continue in the UFC. Ronda Rousey had wrecked everybody on her way to a title shot using her finishing maneuver. Some say Sarah Kaufman deserved this title shot and was unfairly passed over, but I disagree as Strikeforce made the right decision to go with Rousey even if she ended up losing. Tate came to fight and really brought it to her. And to Tate's credit she was able to escape the first armbar and last longer than anyone else has. Rousey dislocated her elbow in the second armbar causing her to lose her title and later her mind if you've listened to her recent interviews. This was one of the most exciting one round fights ever.
1 Miesha Tate vs Julie Kedzie: Strikeforce
This fight was just awesome. The first round was brutal with both fighters standing up and throwing powerful shots at each other. The highlight of the round was Kedzie rocking Tate with a sidekick. Tate battled back in the second round to even it up. Cupcake would then get dropped to the ground again in the third round by Kedzie but was able to get her legs around her to limit the damage. Then Tate used her great mat skills to pull out the armbar in a really patient and methodical way. The armbar was almost like a work of art. I think this fight also played a big part in changing Dana White's mind on women's MMA. And somehow this was on the preliminary card of the event. The best bantamweight fight of the year and the best overall fight of the year.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fight out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week's list will most likely be something fun as the past few weeks were a lot of work. I'm still undecided on this so throw out any ideas if you think of something.